What Style Do I Use
What Style Do I Use
Bruce Cannon is the owner of a 5-year-old small plastics company that employs about 20 people. The company consists of three areas: engineering, sales, and production. For each of these areas, there is a single manager.
Rick Nakano heads the engineering crew. He is a seasoned engineer and is the oldest employee in the company (he is 55 years old). Rick was hired because of his engineering ability and experience.
Before joining the company, Rick worked for 20 years as an engineer for Ford Motor Company. His coworkers perceive him as very competent, even-tempered, and interested in the company.
Rick has been spending most of his time in recent weeks on developing a long-range plan for the company. His goal is to develop a creative model for making decisions about future expenditures for materials, equipment, plant development, and personnel. Rick feels good about the way upper management has reacted to the first drafts of his plans.
Beth Edwards heads the sales force, which is the smallest unit in the company. Beth is the most recent hire in the company and has 15 years of sales experience in a different product area. Beth’s peers see her as highly motivated but not too knowledgeable about the company’s products. Beth’s goal is to increase the company’s annual sales by 30%. However, the first quarter sales figures indicate the rate of growth to be only 2%.
Although Beth has been upbeat since the day she arrived, in recent weeks there have been problems in her department. Her sales staff talks about how little she knows about the plastics industry. In discussions about new products, Beth often is confused. In addition, she has difficulty describing the company’s capabilities to customers because she does not understand fully how a plastics company of this type functions.
Steve Lynch is the manager of production and has been with the company since its inception. Steve started out with the company just out of high school, working on the line, and moved up in the company as a result of his hard work. His goal is to streamline production and decrease costs by 10%. He knows production backward and forward but is a bit apprehensive about his new role as production manager. In fact, Steve is afraid he might fail as manager. He does not know whether he is ready to have others depend on him when he has always been the one depending on others. The owner, Bruce, has great faith in Steve and has had several meetings with him to clarify his role and reassure him that he can do the work. He is certain that Steve will be an outstanding production manager.
Bruce meets weekly with each of his managers to talk about how their groups are fitting in with the overall company goals. In his upcoming weekly conference, he wants to discuss with them what new procedures they could implement within their departments to improve their long-term performance. Bruce is wondering how he should approach each of his managers.
1. According to the basic assumptions of situational leadership, where would you place the three managers in regard to levels of development in the SLII model (see Figure 5.1)?
2. If you were Bruce, would you act the same toward each of the three managers?
3. Which conference would be the hardest for you, and which would be the easiest? Why?
CASE 5.2 Why Aren’t They Listening?
Jim Anderson is a training specialist in the human resource department of a large pharmaceutical company. In response to a recent companywide survey, Jim specifically designed a 6-week training program on listening and communication skills to encourage effective management in the company. Jim’s goals for the seminar are twofold: for participants to learn new communication behaviors and for participants to enjoy the seminar so they will want to attend future seminars.
The first group to be offered the program was middle-level managers in research and development. This group consisted of about 25 people, nearly all of whom had advanced degrees. Most of this group had attended several in-house training programs in the past, so they had a sense of how the seminar would be designed and run. Because the previous seminars had not always been very productive, many of the managers felt a little disillusioned about coming to the seminar. As one of the managers said, “Here we go again: a fancy in-house training program from which we will gain nothing.”
Because Jim recognized that the managers were very experienced, he did not put many restrictions on attendance and participation. He used a variety of presentation methods and actively solicited involvement from the managers in the seminar. Throughout the first two sessions, he went out of his way to be friendly with the group. He gave them frequent coffee breaks during the sessions; during these breaks, he promoted socializing and networking.
During the third session, Jim became aware of some difficulties with the seminar. Rather than the full complement of 25 managers, attendance had dropped to about only 15 managers. Although the starting time was established at 8:30, attendees had been arriving as late as 10:00. During the afternoon sessions, some of the managers were leaving the sessions to return to their offices at the company.
As he approached the fourth session, Jim was apprehensive about why things had been going poorly. He had become quite uncertain about how he should approach the group. Many questions were running through his mind: Had he treated the managers in the wrong way? Had he been too easy regarding attendance at the sessions? Should he have said something about the managers skipping out in the afternoon? Were the participants taking the seminar seriously? Jim was certain that the content of the seminars was innovative and substantive, but he could not figure out what he could change to make the program more successful. He sensed that his style was not working for this group, but he didn’t have a clue as to how he should change what he was doing to make the sessions better.
1. According to the SLII model (see Figure 5.1), what style of leadership is Jim using to run the seminars?
2. At what level are the managers?
3. From a leadership perspective, what is Jim doing wrong?
4. What specific changes could Jim implement to improve the seminars?
CASE 5.3 Getting the Message Across
Ann Caldera is the program director of a college campus radio station (WCBA) that is supported by the university. WCBA has a long history and is viewed favorably by students, faculty, the board of trustees, and the people in the community.
Ann does not have a problem getting students to work at WCBA. In fact, it is one of the most sought-after university-related activities. The few students who are accepted to work at WCBA are always highly motivated because they value the opportunity to get hands-on media experience. In addition, those who are accepted tend to be highly confident (sometimes naïvely so) of their own radio ability. Despite their eagerness, most of them lack a full understanding of the legal responsibilities of being on the air.
One of the biggest problems that confronts Ann every semester is how to train new students to follow the rules and procedures of WCBA when they are doing on-air announcing for news, sports, music, and other radio programs. It seems as if every semester numerous incidents arise in which an announcer violates in no small way the FCC rules for appropriate airtime communication. For example, rumor has it that one year a first-year student disc jockey on the evening shift announced that a new band was playing in town, the cover was $10, and everyone should go to hear the group. Making an announcement such as this is a clear violation of FCC rules: It is illegal.
Ann is frustrated with her predicament but cannot seem to figure out why it keeps occurring. She puts a lot of time and effort into helping new DJs, but they just do not seem to get the message that working at WCBA is a serious job and that obeying the FCC rules is an absolute necessity. Ann wonders whether her leadership style is missing the mark.
Each semester, Ann gives the students a very complete handout on policies and procedures. In addition, she tries to get to know each of the new students personally. Because she wants everybody to be happy at WCBA, she tries very hard to build a relational climate at the station. Repeatedly, students say that Ann is the nicest adviser on campus. Because she recognizes the quality of her students, Ann mostly lets them do what they want at the station.
1. What’s the problem at WCBA?
2. Using SLII as a basis, what would you advise Ann to do differently at the station?
3. Based on situational leadership, what creative schemes could Ann use to reduce FCC infractions at WCBA?